SAN PABLO — The National Civic League awarded the City of San Pablo the 2014 All-American City Award because of advancements in economic development, the addressing of health issues, and a substantial drop in murder rates over the past two years.
San Pablo City Manager Matt Rodriguez said that city council allocated $40,000 from its budget to send 26 delegates to Denver, Colo. to compete against 24 national finalists from June 12-16.
“(AACA) is the highest honor the (NCL) can grant for civic engagement,” Rodriguez said. “We are a small city, but we care for each other.”
San Pablo Mayor Paul Morris said he and other delegates representing the city presented the different accomplishments to a panel of 12 NCL judges.
“We told a compelling story about how our community pulled together to confront these issues and consider solutions,” Morris said.
More than 100 cities nationwide submitted applications to the (NCL), but only 25 finalists were selected, Rodriguez said. Out of the finalists, 10 cities were selected to receive the AACA.
NCL’s mission is to reinforce democracy by increasing the capacity of the nation’s people to effectively and responsibly participate in and develop healthy, prosperous communities across the United States.
Community services manager and San Pablo Economic Development Corporation (SPEDC) member Greg Dwyer was one of those who made the trip to the competition.
“Out of the cities invited to go and compete for the award, only two were from California,” Dwyer said.
SPEDC is a non-profit organization focused on economic and workforce development by delivering programs, providing easy access to training required to expand local businesses and establish a positive reputation for San Pablo.
Rodriguez said that the SPEDC workforce training programs have lowered the unemployment rate in San Pablo by 10 percent, from 22 percent to 12 percent, in two years.
Dwyer said that while the city improved lowering the job crisis, it was also making strides toward healthier living for its residents.
Rodriguez said, “Over the past two years, there has been extensive efforts made by the city to lower and bring awareness to the alarming childhood obesity rate.”
The Childhood Obesity Task Force (COPTF) was established in 2012 after data from the 2010 California Physical Fitness Test (PFT) deemed that more than half of children living in San Pablo were obese.
Dwyer said, “At 52 percent, San Pablo had the third highest rate of obesity in California, and the highest in Contra Costa County.”
In order to reduce the high percentage of childhood obesity, the city has improved access to healthier foods by hosting farmers markets and promoted exercise through the construction and planning of community parks.
Rodriguez said new parks and projects have been made possible because of the efforts of the San Pablo Police Department solving investigations and preventing murders.
“Last year there were no homicides in the city and the crime rates dropped to the 1985 level,” he said.
“Ninety-two percent of all crimes were also solved. It was rated the highest amount of solved cases in the Bay Area.”